In a recent survey of public safety decision-makers, reliable communication was ranked as the most important benefit of land mobile radio systems. The criticality of communications to public safety sets very clear expectations for LMR network service providers:
But what will it take to ensure that your two-way radio network meets these core objectives over the system’s lifecycle?
For public safety LMR networks, the contractual lifespan can extend from 10 to 15 or even more than 20 years.. Contrast this with the comparatively shorter lifespan of the system software and hardware, much of which is based on commercial off-the-shelf IT based technology, and it becomes clear that obsolescence risk must be carefully managed.
Software and hardware obsolescence impacts not only an LMR system’s sustainability but also the operator’s ability to cost effectively expand the system and introduce new capabilities. Technology advancements allow new system capabilities to be developed that help enable greater efficiency and effectiveness in end user operational processes. For example, the introduction of Over-the-Air Rekeying (OTAR) removed the need for manual updates to radio cipher keys – providing public safety agencies with greater operational cost savings and enabling increased information security.
When system components and software become obsolete, a capability gap starts to open up. This is where your legacy system lacks the latest available technology to fulfil current and future needs. In order to close the gap and manage obsolescence, a proactive approach is required to maximise the value of the LMR system throughout its life cycle.
To explain why, let’s look at a customer case study example. The customer is a police agency that owns and operates an LMR network supporting 10,000 front line officers, which has recently been refreshed from a legacy network. During the initial procurement phase of the network, the system manager was mindful of the future need for mobile broadband connectivity to support the force’s digitalisation strategy. The manager also looked at ways to ensure operational continuity cost effectively over the operational life of the network, 10 years and beyond. By combining known information with operational experience, the manager developed a risk mitigation plan by considering the impact of potential future events.
Uncertainty about the future pointed to a potentially large downside for not proactively managing the lifecycle of the network. The downside here could include the high cost of replacing system hardware that will become obsolete. For frontline officers, the most important downside is service disruption – as this increases safety risks and affects their ability to mobilise and respond quickly to an incident.
For the system manager, doing nothing will also limit upside gains. Unless properly managed, hardware and software obsolescence will restrict operational agility – meaning that it not only becomes more expensive to add capabilities, such as increased voice and data capacity, it also takes longer to do so.
The best approach was to minimise the capability gap and secure upside potential while also minimising the downside risk of service disruption. To address the capability gap and secure the network’s operational agility, the system manager’s optimum strategy was to refresh the core network equipment. Alongside the refresh, the manager invested in a lifecycle plan to cost effectively manage ongoing system challenges. The plan ensured that hardware and software obsolescence was proactively and systematically managed, which from a financial perspective provided predictable operational expenses over the life of the network.
A forward-thinking LMR supplier must be able to provide lifecycle management services that optimise the cost of closing the capability gap. These services must also allow operators to keep their systems secure, supportable and flexible – ensuring that the system will keep its value and not have to be disposed of and replaced with a new system.
When it comes to closing the capability gap and staying current, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. With restrictive maintenance budgets, it is vital that you work with a vendor that can deliver the right lifecycle management service plan. Motorola Solutions has deep experience in delivering tailored lifecycle management services that help maximise long term value while managing operational and financial risk.
To learn more about how we can work with your team to create a comprehensive lifecycle plan, visit www.motorolasolutions.com/lifecyclemanagement
John Moule is Public Safety Sales Lead
John is on Linkedin at https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/john-moule/70/245/435
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